DEC 2010 ISSUE 3 $4
Left to right: Janna Burford, Owl Vase and Owl Mug, 2008; Dennis Poitras, Scale Model for Figure Study, 1998; Craig Morrison, Shadow Puppets, 2010;
cover image by Marc Polidoro
179 177 SQUARE2 NOTES 179 PLAYING WITH SHADOWS by Krista Dalby photography by Marc Polidoro 189 JULIAN HARRIS BROWN by Bryan Bondy 195 THE SNOWFLAKES’ WALTZ by Colin Frizzell 201 FROM MUD TO MAGIC interview with Janna Burford by Chrissy Poitras
207 ALEX SIMMONS by Kyle Topping 209 OTTO ROGERS by Carlyn Moulton with Hri Neil photography by Michael Grills 225 DENNIS POITRAS by Chrissy Poitras photography by Michael Grills 233 MAD MENNACHER the artwork of Peter Mennacher by Buffy Carruthers 241 THE HOGSBACK by Paul Hubble 176
December 2010; Issue 3 2M-206 Main Street, Picton Ontario K0K 2T0 613.476.0337 firstname.lastname@example.org DIRECTORS / RenĂŠ Dick, Chrissy Poitras, Kyle Topping DESIGN CONSULTANTS / Vivy Naso, Tim Snyder COPY EDITOR / Betsy Matthews MUSIC & THEATRE EDITOR / Bryan Bondy VISUAL ARTS EDITOR / Becky Lane Square2 is published quarterly in March, June, September, December. Published by Spark Box Studio and Scout Design. For advertising inquires contact email@example.com For subscriptions visit square2magazine.com sparkboxstudio.com scoutdesign.ca Printed in Canada by JB Printing. photograph by Marc Polidoro
ontemporary art rose out of the 1960s and 70s and with it Conceptual art â€“ art based heavily on ideas rather than aesthetics or materials. This significant shift away from classic subject matter and accepted forms of expression changed the way art was perceived by the public. Viewers were challenged to redefine the boundaries of the gallery and reconsider what materials and methods could validly be used in art. Art had a new range of possibilities.
Yet through these transitions, artists also continued to work in a traditional fashion, creating art grounded in history, using materials, methods and subject matter passed down through generations. In this issue of Square2, we showcase artists who work in this realm â€“ marble sculptors, ceramicists, landscape photographers, painters and storytellers.
Shadow puppets by Craig Morrison
Playing with Shadows by Krista Dalby photography Marc Polidoro
n August 2010, Small Pond Arts presented its first theatrical endeavour in Prince Edward County: the shadow puppetry play Doubt Seed. This was my fourth shadow puppetry collaboration with artists Guy Doucette and Craig Morrison. Our previous shadow plays were Wolf/Flow, a dark retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood story, Leap Year Pudding, which involved more than 60 high school students, and Dreams A Go-Go, performed at Torontoâ€™s Nuit Blanche which featured
Shadow puppets by Craig Morrison
projections on a three-story building while puppeteers performed in the windows. For Doubt Seed we were fortunate enough to be joined by puppeteers Sandra Henderson and Mo Morrison-Brandeis, and benefitted from the help of a number of volunteers who pitched in at the eleventh hour to help us make it all happen. Make no mistake: puppetry is serious business. If watching theatre requires a leap of the imagination, then puppetry is the long jump of the theatre world. It is in this leap that the magic of puppetry occurs, where our hearts can be broken by the careful manipulation of sticks or fabric, where we can cheer for a heroic piece of cardboard, and where we can speak truthfully about things we couldnâ€™t say otherwise. Shadow puppetry is a form of theatre with which many people may be unfamiliar other than in its most rudimentary form. Shadow puppetry is the prehistoric cousin of both film and animation, and can use a range of filmic techniques such as close-ups, wide shots, panning, cross-fading and so forth. Shadow puppetry has a long,
dignified, and sacred history stretching back thousands of years and has been practiced all over the world. Shadow puppetry has been a particularly important form of theatre in Asia. In India, shadow puppetry is performed in temples depicting scenes of the gods. Puppets are crafted in reverent seclusion, sometimes incorporating the puppeteersâ€™ own hair. Puppets can remain in use for 100 years or more, and when they are retired, they are given a water burial, left to float away in the currents of a river. Serious business, indeed. While puppetry in general seems to 182
Shadow puppet by Krista Dalby
be in the midst of a renaissance, shadow puppetry has made recent appearances in a number of high-profile Canadian productions, including Robert LePageâ€™s opera, The Nightingale, and the concerts of singer-songwriter Feist. In a world of high-tech gadgetry, shadow puppetry is refreshingly low-tech and has a sensuality that can only be achieved by raw human effort. When Guy told me about a story heâ€™d been writing called Doubt Seed, the story appealed to me immediately and I got to work writing the script. Its rural setting and the story of a newcomer coming to town was one that I could identify with, having recently moved to the County. My collaborators and I all have an appreciation of the macabre, and this story definitely had some darker elements. But there was ultimately a positive message to be told in Doubt Seed: the importance of building a strong community and sticking together to overcome collective troubles. In Doubt Seed, the citizens of fictional Wildgate learn to work together â€“ and so it is with us artists. We have creativity in abundance and we have a powerful collective voice. We have the ability to bring people together, to make them 184 53
Shadow puppets by Craig Morrison
laugh and cry and think. The week before we started building the show, a bulldozer had started demolishing a historic Picton landmark, a beautiful brick church on Main Street, much to the shock and dismay of many local citizens. We chose to reference this senseless destruction of local history in our play by featuring a venus flytrap/bulldozer mowing down a familiar-looking church. We did two performances at Small Pond: one night behind the barn and - when thunderclouds loomed - one night inside the barn.
Shadow puppet by Craig Morrison
Beyond artistic satisfaction, the best part of the whole experience was just living and working together on our farm during the creation and presentation of the show: sharing meals elbow to elbow at the dining room table, cutting puppets until our fingers were numb, bonding over late nights of bug-infested rehearsal, sitting around the campfire into the wee hours, and even midnight howling in the silo (youâ€™ve got to try it!). This is exactly what Small Pond Arts is for: creation and artistic camaraderie. 187
Shadow puppets by Craig Morrison
Julian Harris Brown story & photography by Bryan Bondy
’ve written about Julian Harris Brown before. But my attempts fell flat because I tried to describe his talent using the tired lexicon of rock journalism – the tendency to overuse adjectives, the simplistic comparisons, the breathless awestruck tones, and it’s just not my style. I’m too mindful of that intangible quality in music that produces an emotional, not intellectual response, of how we make connections to songs, albums, and musicians that are personal and subjective. After all, I like Julian, and I pay more attention to his talent because of it. Julian’s isn’t a household name, but he is a known quantity in Canadian indie rock, connected with the likes of Feist and Stars, respected as a multi-instrumentalist, arranger, producer, and performer, playing on top ten records, touring Europe, and appearing at festivals and in stadiums, clubs, and living rooms. He was with the trio, Apostle of Hustle for ten years while sidelining as bassist – session and live – for Matthew Barber and Feist, and he played on a few tracks from Jason Collett’s Idols of Exile.
Raised in Belleville, Julian is now based in Montréal. From his early days playing music in Belleville, he remembers: “Punkrock shows in Daragh Hayes’ bedroom, jammin in Andrew Henry’s basement, Bcivs jazz band rehearsal @ 7 am, piano lessons with Susan Richardson on Chatham St., the 50s Phantom band practice at Bishop’s Seeds.” He started working last year with Torquil Campbell of Stars. When I met Campbell he told me he’d made an album with Julian under the name Dead Child Star. I spent a few summers following Stars from Kingston churches to fields in Texas, so if I am in awe of Julian for anything, it’s his association with Campbell. “I listen and learn from whatever catches my ear; to me that’s the Canadian tradition.” Julian chooses his words carefully, and thinks about the music he makes, and about the music he listens to. He has a sharp political mind, too – not necessarily a quality we associate with musicians. I do think of Julian as being very Canadian, in both obvious and subtle ways. He likes hockey, he believes in fair play, and I think he’d be uncomfortable
with the notion of encountering starstruck fans. In his Montréal environment, where English, French, and new Canadian meet at the border of Outremont and Mile End, he seems at ease. My impression is that Montréal suits Julian better than Toronto did. He never was a “scenester” anyway. Julian is too unpretentious, even as he moves freely among the hipsters. GUH was the first significant band in which Julian played, and it remains the weirdest, not only for its bagpipes and unconventional approach to songs and gigs, but for the odd coincidences linking GUH with Prince Edward County: members who once lived in Belleville or Picton, people who went to school with Julian, someone whose city friends attend GUH shows. I adopted drummer Blake Howard’s cats and, last time I checked, Julian is using my old electric bass case. His own compositions are far removed from the weirdness of GUH. On his blog, Julian offers works in progress, avoiding “definitive versions” – but they are recognizably songs. He can sing, and he knows structure well. His intention is to give listeners the option “to 192
pick and choose” an album of material – which “reflects our playlist culture.” Julian compares recording to painting; appropriately, his recorded songs are presented simply, like unfinished portraits. Apostle of Hustle, in retrospect and by contrast, tried to fit the flavour of improvisation into pop songs. Band member, Andrew Whiteman’s Latin connection was stressed, but jazz as often influenced their experimentation.
genres and diverse talents. Meanwhile there have been venues, audiences, and people: “Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Bimbo’s in San Fran, The Commodore in Vancouver … Germany, Newfoundland, Austria, Chicago, Barcelona, Saskatoon, Missouri, Paris (France), London (Ontario).”
In their heyday, the trio was best live. Much of their cd, Folkloric Feel, was reinterpreted and stripped of polish, the songs from National Anthem of Nowhere were punchier, and the material from Eats Darkness was elevated. Especially if Marty Kinack did the sound, as at Wolfe Island and the first Rivoli show of the National Anthem tour, Apostle of Hustle was a great live act.
But until he started posting his own music online and performing it solo, or with Blake Howard, Julian hadn’t sought to find his voice. That voice is still developing as the songs take shape, and it takes bravery to open up the intimate process of creating music, writing songs and recording often tentative demos while “giving the listener a real time sense of progress” – but that is what intrigues Julian Brown, “having a blast with something new.”
I’ve heard Julian play in bands, as a hired gun, solo, with old friends and big names; I’ve heard him perform most recently as part of GUH, with which he plays not as much as he once did, but more than he has in many years. His easy adaptability has allowed him to work with many
And what I like most about Julian, in the end, is that his approach doesn’t talk down to me, despite all he knows about music. Julian Harris Brown is genuine, and excels in an unassuming way. If you knew him, you would like what he does, and you would want to hear more.
The Snowflakesâ€™ Waltz by Colin Frizzell illustration by Tim Snyder
he wind whipped wildly across the barren lake. On the ice, I shuffled forward like a hundred year-old man who dragged every regret behind him. My chin was down to protect my face from frostbite; my cheeks were already burning. With my head bowed, humbled by a force much greater than myself, I was in the position to pray. I wasn’t sure at first that I could recall how; but when the wind got tricky and sneaked in at the side of the hood of my coat, and it felt like death’s icy finger dragging its way across my neck, I remembered. I prayed for nature to show mercy, for the winds to stop, for Maria’s spirit to stay strong and keep her breathing, for mine to give me wings to carry me to her—I knew, deep down, there was only one spirit between us. I prayed for love, one strong enough to sustain us both. Thoughts of turning back had cluttered my mind since the first sound of the snow crunching beneath my feet filled my right ear, my left one
reserved for the cowardly little voice of fear that tried to get me to retreat. But even with winter throwing its worst at me, cutting through my clothes and leaving me feeling naked to the gales, I forged on. What I’d lose by turning back was greater than what I risked by moving forward. Some people don’t believe in love at first sight. I don’t think there’s any other kind. It doesn’t matter if it’s when you first meet a person or if you’ve always known them, you never see anyone until you’ve seen them through the eyes of love. Only then can you accept their whole being for what it is and not what you want it to be: tainted by judgement, fear and desire. Once you’ve seen them in love’s light, all that came before…well, all that came before becomes the foolishness you need to get over and be forgiven for. But, maybe that’s sight at first love. Others say love is blind; I don’t understand that at all. 196
Once I realized the depth of my need for her, felt that eternal bond, it was like a healer’s touch, the spit in the clay that gave the blind man sight. My cynical heart had shrouded me, protected me so well that I never felt anything fully and saw only shadows. I was a coward and proud of it, pretending my fear was strength, but I was a liar. When I let love in, a veil was lifted. But, there wasn’t a sudden rush that makes your heart brave and gives you the feeling you can take on the world; no, nothing like that. Not at first. When you’ve been living in darkness and someone turns on a light, it burns, god and how. You want to protect yourself from it, you want to cover your eyes; even as they start to adjust, the first thing you see is the mess you made while you were stumbling about. I can see why so many reach for the switch and choose to stay in the darkness. 197
I can’t blame the angels; I think they’d been calling to me for some time. I refused to listen. They got through the only way they could, by taking her from me. Cruel, but I was the source of the destruction—they were only the instruments. I saw her face in a dream, but not a dream, a vision. I never believed in visions, I never believed in anything; then it happened. What kind of a fool dismisses his own senses for a misguided notion of what is and what isn’t, a false knowledge created to give us the illusion of control, understanding, certainty and security? The only truth is joy and sorrow; the only truth is love. I woke with an ache that anyone who has taken a living breath has felt and no one has been able to truly describe or understand. I saw her face, in the vision; a face I’d secretly sought sanctuary in so many times; its tender love and determined will. She had the wonder
of a child, the faith and courage of a martyr. Any fool can close himself off; it takes that special something to stay open to the force of creation. I am any fool.
I woke up covered in sweat and feeling the pain of a weak and dying soul.
When I saw her, she wasn’t wearing the smile that had always tried to disarm me. Her eyes didn’t sparkle with the light of hope that I’d called naivety. Her laugh, that was the only song in my heart, had been killed by the cackles of demons. I wouldn’t surrender her song to them; I would bring it back to her and place it on her lips. Her mother was weeping, Maria’s face was contorted in agony; I could see the tracks of old tears as new ones swelled in her brown eyes. I was a ghost in the room but I could feel the heat of her fever. “Gabriel,” she said, like there was something I could do and she didn’t know why I wouldn’t at least try. I woke up covered in sweat and feel-
ing the pain of a weak and dying soul. I got dressed and ran to the door. When I opened it all I could see was white. The phone was dead, road closed; the car had been turned into a snow bank, anyway. Maria lived on the other side of the lake. I’d made the trip a thousand times before. I used to walk it when we were children and my mother would visit hers. We would sit on her back porch and watch the snowfall. “There are millions 198
I saw the snowflakes waltzing and heard the music in the wind. of cherubs assembling each flake and dropping them through the clouds,” she said, “each trying to outdo the other.” I laughed at her. “I’m sorry,” I said, when I saw I’d hurt her feelings, “but, you know that isn’t true, right?” “I don’t know anything,” she said, “and neither do you.” “I know you have an overactive imagination.” 199
“You call it imagination, I call it being open to a wider reality,” she said. “Can’t you hear the angels singing, see the snowflakes waltz?” I swear as those words left her mouth something changed; I saw the snowflakes waltzing and heard the music in the wind.
But I didn’t understand it, so it frightened me. I dismissed it, wrote it off as illusion and didn’t tell anyone—not even her. I never saw it or heard it again; frightened of the magic and wonder, frightened of what a child instinctively seeks and embraces. We had watched the snowflakes waltz from under the weeping willow on Maria’s shore, which was usually my marker for her. But, I couldn’t see it when I set out, so I guessed and went blind. It shouldn’t have taken me more than fifteen minutes.
It felt like hours had passed when I started to hope the flakes would lead me, that the cherubs might shape the snow into little arrows before dropping them.
sion cleared and my body trembled with life, with nothing left to come between us I felt pure honesty and it crushed me; despite all they’d done to prepare me, I wasn’t ready.
When you’re lost in a frozen world, with a breaking heart, you have to embrace at least the possibility of a benevolent God. And I don’t know how else she would’ve found me, or even known to look.
“And until forever ends,” she said. I heard nothing, but could only see her lips move—the wind had returned.
The storm had been raging for days I think someone said. I saw Maria only through my fever’s haze. I looked into her eyes, tried to focus; I was broken, unable to fight, so I dropped all my defences and opened myself up to her completely.
“Maria,” I called out, like there was something she could do.
“I love you,” I said, in a whisper, “and have since forever began.”
My vision blurred and faded.
I felt her lay her head on my heart and wrap her arms tightly around me. In the background, I heard her mother crying.
Outside, nature showed the mercy I prayed for on the ice; the winds died down to let the words float from my lips to her ears.
The darkness lifted, then disappeared completely; so bright, so warm—I could stare right into it and it didn’t hurt my eyes. No more pain, for me.
She smiled at me, a tear dropped from her eye as she touched my cheek, her palm flat against it. My vi-
I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough; please watch for me, in the snowflakes’ waltz. 200
Next Issue March 2011
Hanna Hur makes pictures that magnify experiences common to all (or most of us). These experiences revolve around identity crisis and formation, and our resulting depression and/or happiness. She received her BFA from Concordia University and currently lives and works in Toronto.
Niall Eccles is a cartoonist from Picton, Ontario who is currently creating a new cartoon character for every day of the year. Experimental at heart but rooted in the traditions of classical animation and cartoon illustration, Character Of The Day continues to evolve through a variety of artistic mediums. COTD weaves together aspects of doodles, dreams, wordplay, storytelling, pop culture, fantasy and real experience as it draws into its fold an ever-expanding diversity of ghosts, magical creatures, oddball humans and other poster children for cartoon multiculturalism.
Published on Dec 23, 2010
This issue of Square2 focuses on artists who work in a traditional fashion, creating art grounded in history, using materials, methods and s...